Corbin Burnes proving to be fantasy ace as historic start continues

Corbin Burnes continues to deal

Burnes fired another six scoreless innings Tuesday night and now has the most strikeouts (40) without a walk by a starter to begin a season in MLB history. He hasn’t given up a run since his first start, and Tuesday night’s four hits allowed marked a season high. Burnes currently sports a 0.37 ERA, a 0.33 WHIP and a 0.71 FIP over four starts (24.1 innings). His expected ERA (1.00) is MLB’s lowest.

Just like last season, Burnes has the second-highest spin rate in baseball, and he entered Tuesday’s outing No. 1 among starters in CSW. His cutter has become one of the best pitches in the game, while THE BAT projects him as a top-five SP right now. Burnes still carries the same workload concerns he did on draft day, but Milwaukee’s defense has been terrific as expected (including this brilliant play on Tuesday night by Billy McKinney), and he’ll continue to benefit from a home park that’s among the most favorable at boosting Ks. It's only been four starts, but they’ve been as dominant as possible.

Burnes sure looks like a first-round fantasy pick in 2022.

Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Corbin Burnes works against a San Diego Padres batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Corbin Burnes has turned into an ace, both for the Milwaukee Brewers and fantasy managers. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

C.J. Cron’s bat comes alive

Cron finally homered for the first time this season Tuesday night, racking up five RBI in the process. His Statcast numbers have been as ugly as his traditional stats during his first year in Colorado, but ultimately patience should be rewarded here. The Rockies are off to a horrific start at the plate collectively, and Cron continues to bat fifth in the lineup behind Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon. Coors Field has continued to boost run scoring at an extremely high rate. Any opportunity of trading for Cron on the cheap likely vanished Tuesday night.

Slumping Blue Jays

While the Yankees’ 6-10 start gets more headlines, Toronto’s slow start to the year (7-10) has also been highly disappointing, especially to fantasy managers. It’s worth noting they’ve played just six home games, so there may be prime trading opportunities here with the team hitting in such favorable environments this season. The Blue Jays had a whopping six hitters with an ADP inside 100 (and seven in the top-150), and let’s take a look at their (mostly) sluggish starts.

Marcus Semien – He’s batting just .174, but he remains hitting leadoff and has added four homers and three steals. Semien is one season removed from batting .285 with 33 homers, 10 steals and 123 runs scored and now hits in a far better park. Trade for him if you can.

Cavan Biggio – He’s down to .156/.269/.333 on the year. Biggio returned from a hand injury Tuesday night, when he was dropped to sixth in a Toronto lineup missing George Springer and Teoscar Hernandez. Biggio doesn’t have a hit off a lefty this season, has a .408 OPS on the road and sports an expected slugging in the bottom 3% of the league. It’s a small sample, but it’s also discouraging he’s yet to attempt a steal, as it’s possible his perfect streak to start his career is making him less risky (getting on base more would help too).

Lourdes Gurriel – After an 0-for-4 Tuesday night, Gurriel is down to .188/.231/.208 on the year. The ugly start includes just 16 ABs at home, and Dunedin has been an extreme hitter’s park as expected over its admittedly small early sample. It will soon look unfair Gurriel is 2B eligible in Yahoo leagues when he starts hitting.

Teoscar Hernandez & George Springer – Hernandez posted a .517 OPS before going on the COVID injured list, while Springer has yet to make his Blue Jays debut after suffering oblique and quad injuries. There seems to be a theme here.

Bo Bichette – It’s not all bad, as Bichette homered Tuesday night, giving him three long balls and two steals over the last week. His max exit velocity is in the 98th percentile.

Vlad Guerrero Jr. – Guerrero’s scorching start at the plate (.368/.493/.632) looks all the more impressive when compared to the other struggles of his teammates. He has more walks than strikeouts so far. There’s absolutely nothing fluky about his start, as Vlad Jr. is already one of baseball’s very best hitters, and his fantasy managers have to be salivating seeing his launch angle rise as hoped. Guerrero is only going to start benefitting more from his surroundings moving forward, as he looks locked in as a top-15 fantasy player.

Rowdy Tellez – His ugly start at the plate is especially frustrating given his opportunity with Toronto’s injuries, and with Randal Grichuk hitting well playing time could soon become an issue. But Tellez’s average exit velocity is in the top 2% of the league, and there’s real power upside here for someone who’s rostered in just 4% of Yahoo leagues.

Alejandro Kirk – Another slow starter, Kirk’s fantasy value may never be lower than right now. It’s encouraging he’s seeing some time at DH, and Danny Jansen is making his teammates look like Babe Ruth in comparison (.065/.147/.097). Kirk could be a fantasy difference maker for those with some patience, as catcher remains quite a problem.

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